The genius of Mrinal Sen found intimate recollection at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale when a session in memory of the filmmaker discussed the mastery that made him a titan in Indian cinema in the past six decades.
“His movies discussed realism mercilessly,” said cultural theorist Ashish Rajadhyaksha in a tribute to the auteur who passed away in Kolkata on Sunday. The master’s portrayal of realism bore no overt politics behind it; instead they were more about individual explorations, the speaker told a gathering at the Biennale Pavilion in Cabral Yard.
Sen was one among those very few makers who succeeded in fixing locales set far away from regions native or familiar to him, Rajadhyaksha said at the Monday session, where the audience was shown clips from the movies of the master.
Rajadhyaksha, who has co-authored an encyclopedia of Indian cinema, reiterated that Sen was part of a trio beaded by 20th-century filmmakers Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak. “He lived a wonderful 95 years, and died in bliss and peace with his family around him,” Rajadhyaksa said. “He would have wanted us to move on and not mourn his death.”
Earlier in the New Year Eve, another noted cultural theorist addressed the venue, speaking on ethnomusicology. Tejaswini Niranjana, also an author-professor, began her words by explaining why the talk has been named ‘Deewana’, which means ‘crazy’ or ‘mad’ in Hindi.
“I have written an entire chapter on my book on deewane—people crazy for music, crazy by music, crazy about music,” she recalled, delving into her studies associated with a book titled Musicophilia in Mumbai. The work examines the cultural, political and geographical reasons why Mumbai (formerly Bombay) became such a popular centre for Hindustani music.
The session was also backed by screening of a few performances of Saath-Saath, Music Across Borders, an Indo-Chinese collaborative music project. In between the screening, Niranjana recited the journey of what began as an experimental genre and gained a shape over time.
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